We are always looking for new ways to tackle the mixed speech group issue. Storybooks can save the day. I will show you how!
Mixed groups are a challenge. We need to keep all students engaged, target a variety of different skills, give each student sufficient attention, collect data, and manage to stay calm, cool, and collected. All in a day’s work…right?! I wish I could tell you that I had a magic wand that would help make it all better. Instead….I have gathered a few tricks up my sleeve over the years since I too have to deal with mixed speech and language groups. I find basing my lesson or overall activity around a theme or activity, it helps stay cohesive and organized. It helps make planning a bit easier. It helps students stay focused and engaged. I have based mixed groups around projects, crafts, cooking activities, board games, and of course…storybooks. So how do I use storybooks exactly?
Don’t be afraid to reread the story or not finish the story in one session
Since we will be using the storybook to target a variety of goals, it will take a bit to get through. That is ok. There is no rule that says you have to finish a book in one session. You may be thinking to yourself, “but won’t the student forget what the book is about?” They might. And that is ok. Is memory of the book your goal? If not, refresh their memory. Review the highlights/summary of what was previously read. Use graphic organizers or visual aids that represent what was previously read to refresh their memory. You can use one book over and over week after week. Students won’t mind hearing the story again. It will help their memory and understanding. It will help you ensure that you get all of those goals met.
Cheat sheets will help you make sure you target all goals necessary
What goals are you trying to address with this book? My guess: wh questions, sequencing, main idea, articulation, syntax, social skills, and inferencing are possibly some goals you might be addressing. Pick one goal per student. Don’t try to be an overachiever! Take a piece of paper and fold it into sections. Jot down some targets you can address using that book. Use it to make sure you hit those points when you get to them while reading the book. That cheat sheet can also be used to collect data too! You can also keep it in the book to save time the next time you plan to use it! Want more information on using cheat sheets with storybooks? CLICK HERE to check out entire blog post all about it!
Build the routine with your students.
If you have mixed groups you will have them from the beginning of the year most likely. Build the routine and expectations with your students. How will mixed groups be run? How should they behave? How should they wait for their turns? How should they act if other students in the group get something wrong or need more time? Should they call out answers? What should they expect from you? It may take a few sessions of reminders and models. Role play how it might look if they didn’t wait for their turns or acted inappropriately with peers. The more you set the routine and expectations from the beginning, the easier mixed groups will be throughout the year.
As you can see…storybooks can be an effective way to work with mixed speech groups. Storybooks can be fun. You don’t need a massive library in your therapy room either. Borrow from the library. Use the app Epic to get books right on your ipad (CLICK HERE to check that app out).
I also have various storybook companions that might make your life a bit easier too. CLICK HERE to check them out! I made the questions and prompts so you don’t have to. I have no prep and low prep options too!